Dear Partners, Colleagues and Stakeholders
This is to notify you that the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) is officially back in office after a well-deserved break.
It is a New Year, a new chapter, a new decade, but be that as it may be, our mission of promoting Environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilisation of natural resources and environmental protection continues.
The New Year has started on a sad note with machete violence swiftly turning into a security threat. The murderous machete wielding gangs who initially targeted gold mining sites hacking miners to death and stealing their ore have slowly found their way to our homes and its horrifying. The obtaining situation is indeed a security crises and the response to this reign of terror by the state has been largely inadequate and ineffective. The machete wielding gangs are causing relentless terror resulting in several Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASMers) especially women being forced to down their tools. This is despite ASM being a direct source of livelihood for a million Zimbabweans while three million are benefitting indirectly from it.
The violence has also contributed to the drop in gold deliveries with statistics showing that during this period last year,22 tonnes were delivered to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) against 17 tonnes delivered this time around. In 2019,Artisanal and Small-scale Miners(ASM) accounted for 63% of total deliveries to FPR.
Moreover, the national economy is under threat because of this ongoing criminality and violence due to these machete gangs operating with impunity. Gold is expected to contribute US$4 billion, a third of the anticipated USD12 billion mining earnings by 2023. The ASM sector has been the top deliverer of gold to Fidelity Printers compared to the large-scale miners. This clearly shows the significance of the sector which has unfortunately been tainted by the actions of the machete wielding gangs. Furthermore, Zimbabwean gold may be shunned by international markets as it is associated with criminality and illegality. This illegality may even escalate into a national security threat as it increases the probability of gold financing conflict and terrorist groups.
Our plea to Government is that it puts in place deterrent measures and sentences to deter the heinous acts being perpetrated and perpetuated by these gangs. The Government must move swiftly and ensure it improves mineral resource governance including adopting the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidelines on Responsible Supply Chains from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas whose statutes’ emphasize on improving responsible, safe and traceable mining. The government must finalise the review of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill putting in place a mining cadastre system and regulating the ASM sector for greater transparency in allocation of mining claims. The machete violence is a symptom of failed mineral resource governance that organisations like ZELA have been highlighting over the years.
As we start the decade, feelings of despair due to the harsh economic environment are huge that they threaten to engulf our very essence as a society. At ZELA, we realize that it is only when ordinary citizens build their power and join environmental and social justice movements working relentlessly to confront the climate change catastrophe,irresponsible investments, poverty and inequality that sustainable development outcomes can be achieved. It is telling why the ZELA team reported back in office during the Fight Inequality Week that runs concurrently with the Davos assembly where the elite meet at the World Economic Forum to discuss issues affecting the masses in their absence. At ZELA we will continue demanding equitable distribution of mineral resources for the benefit of everyone as we join the #Fightinequality week of action.
This year will see us implementing the new ZELA Strategy which will run from 2020-2025, themed “Creating a legacy in environmental justice and natural resource governance”. I will be communicating with you our exciting programs in due course.
Dear Partners and Colleagues let me take this opportunity to wish you all the best in 2020. Despite the obvious challenges facing us, together we can make a difference. We value your continued support in our mandate of promoting democracy, good governance and sustainable development using natural resources as a framework.
(ZELA Executive Director)